Know Thyself

I was thinking about hormones after reading a rather depressed sounding post on another blog. The author seemed to think that she was feeling down because she was single. Personally, I never believe that. If I’m suddenly feeling sad it can’t be because I’m single. How could it be? I’m single on a regular basis. In fact – not to brag – but I am almost always single! Yet I don’t feel depressed about it nearly as often. So it’s got to be something else.

Well, I’ve decided that it must be hormones.

Hormones are a funny thing. On the one hand, it’s disquieting to think that so much of what appears to be our personality could be regulated by chemicals floating through our bodies. On the other hand, they’re a convenient scapegoat for when those very same personalities take a dive south. This is not avoiding responsibility. To the contrary. I think of it as the first step of one of those 12-step programs. Only by acknowledging one’s grumpiness as an external factor can you begin to act on it. For ee-jee:

Bad: “I’m sad because I’m single.”

This is a bad attitude, because what you’re saying is that as long as you’re single you’re going to be sad. It also doesn’t explain why you aren’t terminally depressed all the time.

Good: “I’m sad because my seretonin levels are low, due to elevated prolactin or reduced estrogen coupled with rising progesterone.”

This is a good attitude because it explains why  you feel depressed this week in particular, and relates it to a temporary situation which can probably be fixed.

Because hormones can be fixed. Feeling flush with sad hormones now? Drag yourself out jogging to get the endorphins flowing. Call a friend and get some oxytocin pumping.  Eat sweet potatoes or chocolate or lentils or other hormone-regulating foods. Or just curl up in bed and say “this too shall pass.” Because it will. It’s just hormones, not your single status.

Although you can hope that that too will pass… But it will probably take a little longer.

Part 1: Know Thy Spouse

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Guest Post: I’m Crazy, But Only For Today

I’ve never done a guest post before, but YH landed this in my inbox, and I like it. Even better, YH is a guy.

When I got back into shidduchim last year, there was one rule first and foremost in my mind: I wanted to get married, not play games. One of the reasons I want to get married is to find the happiness that comes from stability, because it’s hard to be happy when you have this huge gaping hole in your life. It’s hard to see the positives past such a big negative. It’s hard to enjoy yourself when all you want to do is lie down and indulge in self-pity. We’ve all had something which makes us feel incredibly lousy. It’s the essence of the shidduch crisis. The crisis isn’t that there are thousands of unmarried men and women who desire strongly to have kids and raise a family. The crisis is you and me. It’s a personal crisis shared by thousands.

I know what it means to hold a baby in your arms, to teach a child to read, to show little ones right from wrong. Boruch Hashem, I’ve been blessed with several ridiculously cute kinfauna (kn’ayin harah) whom I treasure more than anything and who love me back unconditionally. Boruch Hashem I have a close relationship with my married siblings, so I have a glimpse at the inside of the married universe.

It’s the hardest thing for me in the world.

How can I maintain a balance, an equilibrium, when every day I’m constantly reminded that I’m still alone, that I’m still single – especially in a culture that revolves around family life? How can I maintain yourself through rejection after rejection; to see my optimism and self-confidence crumble into dust?

I have to take some time off. Indulge in a little of that self-pity, and do it without feeling guilty. Just let it wash over myself. Watch a movie, seek out sympathetic friends. Do something relaxing, comforting. Then think it through – remember what my life is about. True, the life I want includes a wife and family. But that’s not the life Hashem has given me – not yet – and I have to live the life I have now to the best of my ability. There is so much out there for me to do: I have no business wallowing in yearning for something out of my reach.

To the contrary: it’s time to grab life by the horns. Time to kick back into high hear, make a goal for myself, follow it through to the triumph. Start exercising, drop a few pounds, ditch the raggedy sweater with the nachos stains and get a nice shirt and new tie. It’s time to feel better about being me, to start being proactive about life in general.

It’s okay to have a bad day, but only as a launchpad for a better future. It’s okay to crazy – but only for a day.

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I was a bit put out to hear that one commenter’s mother thinks my outlook is too jaded. Me? Jaded? I’m not jaded. Jaded is when you’re bored by dating and are no longer excited at the idea of dressing up and meeting an interesting new guy. I’m always excited when I go out. In fact, now more than ever, because now I won’t go out with anyone who doesn’t sound exci… wait, that’s not jaded. That’s just experienced.

Okay, fine. Maybe a tad. This is why we have Friday reposts. To hearken back to the carefree days of skipping down Avenue J with nothing more weighty on my mind than the length of my skirt… and the Women in Black who were measuring it.

Yes, I know. I seem to obsess about dating. That’s cuz this is a dating blog. That means I write about things related to dating and being single and so on. It’s a topical blog, and that’s how topical goes. In real life I hardly ever talk about dating. Can’t seem to keep my friends from talking about it to me (as if I’m interested, guys! Well, just the bad date stories. Those I collect), but for the record, I’m not the one who brings it up.

Yeah really. Once Apple was picked out from a threesome of bloggers as the most likely Bad4 because she spent an entire afternoon complaining about crummy dates. I was just sitting there and taking mental notes. Thanks girlfriend! I got, like, three posts out of that afternoon. And complete anonymity.

Not that I’m perfectly contented. (And who is? That would stymie progress.) In my perfect life, I’d be engaged about now. But who ever lives their perfect life? In all the big things, I mean. Somehow the little things are always peaches and cream. But there have been times when I was very frustrated because life didn’t work out how I’d hoped and I was positive things would be – well, not rotten, but fairly mediocre. Of course they weren’t. In fact, every time, in retrospect, the way things actually worked out was infinitely better than how I’d planned them.

In fact, after a whole series of such occurrences I promised myself that I’d never plan again; I’d just go with the flow. That lasted about – oh – three and a half years. I’ve been really good about it, honest. But every now and then you hit an important crossroads when you just want to know. And I don’t.

So, does uncertainty stink? Yes. Am I depressed, obsessive, and miserable? Um, no.

If you don’t know me, you’ll have to trust me on this one. (If you do, be honest: am I?)